NORMAN — Most expect five-star running back commitment Joe Mixon to make an instant on-the-field impact for Oklahoma next fall.
But several months before recording a single statistic in a Sooners uniform, Mixon has already become a dynamic difference-maker for the program on the recruiting trail.
Mixon, ranked by Rivals as the No. 1 all-purpose back in the 2014 recruiting class, committed to the Sooners last weekend and immediately began talking up his future home to other recruits.
“That dude hits me up at least twice a week,” three-star defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao said with a laugh.
Lealaimatafao, from San Antonio, visited Oklahoma last March for junior day and liked what he saw, but committed to Texas later that month.
The 6-foot-2, 301-pound prospect, though, struck up a friendship with Mixon during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl last weekend, and decommitted from Texas a few days later amid the Longhorns' coaching changes.
Lealaimatafao said he plans to take his recruitment all the way to signing day on Wednesday, Feb. 5, and that several schools remain in the mix.
“He just puts the thought in my head basically,” Lealaimatafao said of Mixon. “We became real cool at the Army bowl week. I hung out with him most of the time.”
Perhaps no player better illustrates the tremendous recruiting impact of Oklahoma's 45-31 Sugar Bowl upset of Alabama than Mixon, who admitted after committing that the upset “sealed the deal” for him.
“It's great to have a player like that, but it also helps to build momentum,” said Edmond Santa Fe quarterback Justice Hansen, another OU 2014 commitment. “I said before the Alabama game, it's going to be huge if OU beats them, not to just to excite the fans again and actually make the team believe even more, but also with just recruiting.